The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

A teenage girl’s guide to The Chicks

Ciara Whimbush
Throughout their time together as a trio, The Chicks, an iconic country music group, continues to inspire their fans to embrace one’s inner strength. Although several of their hits precede the time of TikTok or the iPhone, songs by the band still reign true today, with their lyrics acting as a vessel for the young teens and women of the 2020s. With powerful lyrics paired with addictive melodies, The Chicks continue to utilize their musical talents to empower their audiences.

In the realm of music, several genres stand out as relatively unpopular among the general public. Opera, heavy metal and rap grace the lists of genres disliked by the masses, and seemingly always follow behind the controversial musical sect of country. A 2018 Statistica study found that 19% of 16-19-year-olds favored country and western songs, a narrow margin in comparison to the 38 % of 45-54-year-olds who enjoy the genre. In this critiqued genre, teenage country fans may seek artists who reflect their voices and provide them with a sense of understanding. Fortunately for said teens, they do not need to look any further than to The Chicks: an all-female country music group that musically and socially understands the unshakable force of standing up for oneself. 

Formerly known as The Dixie Chicks, the girl group began as a quartet in 1989, featuring Laura Lynch, Robin Lynn Macy, Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer. However, by 1995, the group formed into a trio after the departures of Lynch and Macy, and the introduction of now-frontwoman, Natalie Maines. The band comprises Maines on lead vocals, the Omnichord and guitar; Maguire on backing vocals, fiddle and mandolin; and Strayer on backing vocals, guitar, banjo and dobro. In their early years as a freshly minted trio, The Chicks quickly launched themselves into the musical lexicon. Iconic singles such as “There’s Your Trouble,” “Travelin’ Soldier,” and “Wide Open Spaces” reached number 1 on several music charts, all of which artfully captured womanhood through a tender, turn-of-the-century lens. In an era of music where artists such as Britney Spears and TLC headed the charts, The Chicks added to a medley of female voices in mainstream music. 

Within the discography of The Chicks lies several catchy songs that deliver beautiful stories accompanied by artful melodies. Their 2002 album, “Home,” closes out with the song “Top of the World,” which discloses a vulnerable confession of a person who feels as though life has passed them by, and sings of the proverbial songbird that can not fly up to its highest potential. Another country staple from the album, “Truth No. 2,” proclaims the value of honesty, and in turn, the loyalty a person earns when reciprocated. “I Can Love You Better” from their first album as a trio serves as a message to a former lover about all the ways The Chicks outdo their new girlfriend. Throughout each of the songs, The Chicks carry a knack for catchy rhythms and a level of personality that allows the audience to feel as though they lived out the experiences the group sings of. 

While their lyrical reputations precede them, The Chicks did not shy away from embracing the controversies they faced. During a 2003 performance on tour in London, frontwoman Maines declared her embarrassment over President George W. Bush and his actions in regard to the Iraq War, and stated her shame in both the band and the former Commander in Chief hailing from the same state. In less than a paragraph, the women of The Chicks became ostracized in the world of country music, with several radio stations scrubbing their songs off the air, and fans burning their albums. Their proclamation of distaste for the figurehead of America outside of the country’s borders became enough for fans to spew hate and vitriol toward the band. In light of their controversy, however, The Chicks channeled the flames thrown at them into their 2006 album, “Taking the Long Way.” Eloquently, masterfully and passionately, the trio utilizes their instrumental prowess and vocal talent to show the nuances in their reactions and reflections on the events of 2003 and did so in a way that emits catharsis with every lyric. The single “Not Ready to Make Nice” delivers raw verses in regard to the backlash the group faced, and nails the instrumentals in a way that tugs on the heartstrings of the listener. In the song “Silent House,” the women beautifully articulate the short thereafter of a loss and the way it feels to pick up the pieces of what was discarded. The build-up in the song “Easy Silence” draws parallels to the time the group spent outside the limelight and the inner solace provided by their safe space. Altogether, the album paints a picture of strength and earned The Chicks five Grammy awards, and a well-deserved number 1 spot on the Billboard 200 list. 

Despite the outrage in the aftermath of the 2003 comments, The Chicks never shied away from addressing political topics, a stance that contradicted the genre of country music as a whole. Their 2020 album “Gaslight,” features the song “March, March,” which comments on the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as other pressing issues such as the influence of white privilege and the impact of climate change. Currently, the group resides on their 2023 World Tour, with plans to perform in cities such as Sydney, Australia and Toronto, Canada. 

“I have loved the Chicks since when I was in middle school [in the early 2000s]. I originally [loved] them for their cover of ‘Landslide’ by Fleetwood Mac—in my middle school eyes I saw three strong, creative women that I could relate to. After ‘Not Ready to Make Nice’ came out in 2006, I was almost embarrassed to like them because many conservative, war-supporting people I surrounded myself with spoke down on them. As I have grown I have fallen back into my middle school roots—seeing strong women stand up for what they think and using their platform to be role models,” NC special education teacher Amanda Massey said. 

Within the decades-long span of The Chicks’ career, they manage to provide their audiences with a safe haven to explore their emotions, release their tension and feel every inch of their sadness or joy. In moments of longing, fans can turn to the yearning of “Cowboy Take Me Away” to fill that space. For when listeners need to release the weight of a breakup, “Tonight the Heartache’s on Me” serves as a honky-tonk means of shaking away the tension. “Ready to Run” plays like a fantasy of anyone afraid of the future, which may sound perfect to any teens potentially dreading the future. For every mood, minute and moment, The Chicks deliver to audiences an ever-youthful sound of country music, no matter how many years pass by. 

 “[The Chicks] have not changed my perspective on country music. I believe country music has finally caught up to them. They set the standard for what Women in Country Music can be, way before it was expected- now women like Taylor Swift, Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Lainey Wilson, Carly Pearce and Elle King don’t have to shut up and sing, they can speak and sing their mind,” Massey said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Ciara Whimbush
Ciara Whimbush, Copy Editor
One fateful day in 2013, Ciara Whimbush wrote a story about two girls visiting a witch’s house in the woods. Throughout the process, she stumbled across the thing that made her feel the most like herself: writing. As Whimbush embarks on her junior year as a member of NC’s magnet program, she aims to continue to expand her view of the world through a journalistic lens. As a newly minted editor, Whimbush excitedly looks upon this new school year to hone her craft and build upon her new discipline. She holds the field of social studies in high regard, as she actively participates in NC’s Model UN club, as well as HiStory Retold, an organization that seeks to diversify curriculums across classrooms. Aside from typing away on her keyboard, her other interests include spinning her flag and rifle on the NC Color Guard, baking sweets, making Dad jokes, taking pictures of the sky and indulging in various video essays riddled on YouTube. During her second year at The Chant, Whimbush hopes to become a better writer, an impactful editor and a citizen of the world; whether it be with interviews, articles, or exploring out of her comfort zone. Her main goal surrounds making her first-grade self proud of how far she has come.       

Comments (0)

To provide a comment on a story, you must include a valid first and last name. If you do not include both a first and a last name, The Chant reserves the right to not post your comment.
All The Chant Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *